Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) office confirms to ThinkProgress that a deal has been reached to avert the so-called “nuclear option” on what appear to be very favorable terms to Democrats. In a nearly unconditional surrender to Senate Democrats, a core group of Senate Republicans agreed to a deal that will confirm most of the nominees currently subject to Republican filibusters, and replace two nominees to a key labor agency. While the identity of those new nominees are, as yet, unknown, two Democratic Senate sources tell ThinkProgress that the new nominees to the National Labor Relations Board can be “any two we want,” so long as it is not the two people currently serving on the NLRB via recess appointments.
In return for a virtually complete capitulation to Democratic demands, Republicans get to postpone the question of whether filibusters can still exist for executive branch nominees. Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) rejected an offer from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to confirm the pending nominees if Reid agreed to take the nuclear option off the table, so Reid retains the option of changing the Senate Rules in the future if Republicans obstruct future nominees. Senate Republicans will also get to make the rhetorical point that they prevented two NLRB nominees whose recess appointments were called into question by a pair of court decisions handed down by five Republican judges from being confirmed to their seats on that agency.
What appears to set this filibuster reform fight from previous engagements where Democrats ultimately agreed to much less favorable deals is the resolve of Reid’s caucus. To the very end, it appeared very clear that Democrats had the 51 votes necessary to trigger the nuclear option, so Republicans had no choice but to deal.
The Senate just broke a filibuster on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, clearing the path for the first of the seven nominees to be confirmed.
Under the Senate’s rules, Republicans can potentially force up to 8 hours of delay before Cordray’s final confirmation vote. A cloture vote seeking to break the filibuster on another nominee is likely to follow shortly thereafter.